He says: I had an emotional relationship via Facebook
A few years ago, I had this Facebook relationship. I apologized, she said she forgives me and I've been faithful ever since. But she won't let it go.
She says: Now I can’t trust him
I just don't know how I can ever trust him again. It was very hurtful.
Online “virtual affairs” have wounded and destroyed countless marriages. But in two respects, this couple is way ahead of most on the road to healing.
First, each recognizes that emotional adultery can be just as destructive, and just as difficult to heal from, as acted-out sexual adultery. In fact, even if this had been a case of him “just” viewing pornography, that, too, would have damaged their marriage. As Jesus said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt 5:27)
Second, it is also critical that he has already apologized, and she has already forgiven him.
But, with our human hearts being as they are, simply apologizing and forgiving are often not enough. While such acts might resolve the “moral debt” of an offense, they don’t always resolve the emotional debt as well.
It’s similar to what happens when we go to confession. Though our sins are forgiven, the priest will also give us penance, usually prayers, as part of the process of reconciliation. Why? Though a sin is forgiven, its concrete effects often have to be made up for. For instance, a thief can apologize to his victim and his victim forgive him, but still, to fully restore their relationship, it is fitting for the thief to undo his wrong by returning what he has stolen.
Here are some concrete acts this man can do to fully restore trust in their marriage.
Invite her to attend a Retrouvaille weekend retreat together. It will take time and effort for both of them, but the experience has helped thousands of couples wounded in various ways, including emotional infidelity, find healing and hope.
Get off Facebook entirely, and install an internet accountability software program, such as Covenant Eyes. While it is commendable that he has been faithful for several years, by installing such a system he will not only give himself – and their relationship – an added layer of safety, it will also show her that he understands his vulnerability and the need to protect himself and their relationship.
Regularly pray and ask her to pray with him, asking God into their marriage to guide and deepen their healing.